OZ OT - Oh say can you see the Americans coming?

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Oh say can you see the Americans coming?
Monday 27 March 2000

The Americans are invading. In the biggest influx since the GIs arrived to defend Australia in World WarII, Americans have become the third-largest source of growth in residents of Australia, with a net 7701 new arrivals in the year to last June.

In just two years, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports, the number of people born in the United States but living in Australia has leapt from 56,000 to just under 70,000. While few Americans are formally migrating here, only New Zealand (34,250) and China (21,422) are now providing more of Australia's net growth in residents.

The reason, essentially, is the new economy. The Americans are arriving not to migrate here permanently, but on temporary visas to live here for work, study, business - and quite often, to extend holidays into something more lasting.

The Bureau of Statistics reports that while just 1391 Americans were among the 84,143 people migrating to Australia in the year to last June, another 9839 arrived on various long-term entry visas, more than any other nationality except people from Britain. They included almost 5000 students, 3600 temporary business-people and residents, and 700 tourists who converted their visas while in Australia. While this was roughly offset by Australians moving to the US to migrate, work or study - 13,774, or 12 per cent of that record exodus of 118,042 Australians who left the country in 1998-99 - at least across the Pacific, the brains are flowing in both directions.

Mr Dan Coyne, the financial policy officer for the Australian Consumers' Association, is a Pittsburgh boy and proud of it. But then he moved to Washington, met an Australian girl, and now he lives in Sydney, and rarely regrets the shift.

"I've really enjoyed living here, it's been a good adventure," Mr Coyne says. He surmises that Australia's unusually favorable image in the US is the reason other Americans are doing the same thing.

"Almost every impression they hear about Australia is positive," he says. "There's still a very warm relationship between the two countries, a friendship and closeness that goes back for years. You can't think of many other countries you could say that of."

There are times here, Mr Coyne concedes wryly, when an American accent "is not a good thing to have ... America has a very high profile on a number of things, not always positive, and for that reason you tend to become a target".

He enjoys getting into debates with Australians about the US - "but there are times when it hasn't been a dialogue, it's just a rant. Some people assume you aren't capable of looking critically at your own country, and I resent that". But those times, he says, are the exception.

The high-profile American corporate chiefs - Paul Anderson (BHP) and former CEOs Frank Blount (Telstra), Bob Joss (Westpac) and George Trumbull (AMP) - tend to be based in Sydney and Melbourne, but 1996 census figures show the American-born are widely dispersed throughout Australia. Even then, they were one of the six largest overseas-born groups in the Northern Territory (Crocodile Dundee in reverse?), seventh in Tasmania and ninth in Queensland.

The Bureau figures do not include another 4646 Americans the Government estimates were here illegally last 30 June, overstaying their tourist visas. They made up the second highest number of illegals after the British - but that essentially reflects the fact that a lot of American tourists come here. The Government estimates that just one in 400 American tourists here stay on illegally, compared to one in 15 Iraqis.

New Zealanders remain overwhelmingly the biggest source of net arrivals in Australia. By 30 June last year, the bureau estimates that 361,572 New Zealanders were living here. The British rank second in the number of people arriving as residents, but the British-born population is now more or less static at 1,170,000, as many earlier settlers die or return home.

The Italians remain the third largest migrant community, with 244,614 Italian-born residents at 30June last year, but their numbers fell by almost 20,000 in the past five years as the community aged.

There were also 208,403 Australian residents born in what was formerly Yugoslavia, 175,249 born in Vietnam, 156,767 born in China (and another 61,988 born in Hong Kong or Macau), 140,196 born in Greece (half of them living in Victoria), 123,466 born in Germany, 116,887 born in the Philippines, and 100,711 born in India.


Posted because some forum regulars have indicated an interest in OZ...

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), March 28, 2000



Here are another couple of Kiwis coming to invade Australia later this year. But we won't be staying for too lomg. I've just confirmed our flight details for July so we can escape the coldest part of our winter. Looking forward to some of that Queensland sunshine, and I guess we can put up with drinking Aussie beer for a short time. :-)

Next year, perhaps we'll try Hawaii.

-- Malcolm Taylor (taylorm@es.co.nz), March 28, 2000.

Only marsupial Americans need apply.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), March 28, 2000.


Thanks for the article - I'll definitely keep this in mind...

-- Deb M. (vmcclell@columbus.rr.com), March 28, 2000.

I will asy Australa would be the first place I would travel too. The way it was settled has alot to do with the way I think of Australia.

-- ET (bneville@zebra.net), March 28, 2000.

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